Away With the Fairies
This may be very unconventional, but I would like to share something rather special to me. I keep a dream log where my wanderings of every night are faithfully documented by yours truly. It is said that one could glean a fair amount from one’s subconscious. And indeed, that leads us to the question of consciousness.
Consciousness is thought of as thinking about thinking. But what could the exact definition of consciousness be? Some offer the idea that it includes the ability to feel pain and other emotions. However, I do not feel that this is the best definition: there are certain conditions that exist that render an individual incapable of feeling, or less sensitive to these emotions, and one intuitively looks at them and believe them to be conscious beings. Perhaps then, instead of these black and white emotions, the concept of suffering is a better one to use. I think that this is slightly better because it is not as easy to deny the existence of suffering in a person. On the flip side, it is also harder to identify this since suffering is a more qualitative and nebulous entity.
Once consciousness is defined, we move on to where we find it, and what could claim this quality. Consciousness is said to exist in humans, but there are those who make the distinction between persons and humans. If a person is a human with consciousness, then there exist non-human persons: intelligent aliens, robots, intelligent animals (Coco, the gorilla). There also exist human non-persons: a human patient in a vegetative state. And there are those who are perhaps midway, such as a human patient with dementia. Be aware that there is a legal definition of a person, which runs thus: a human who is capable of engaging in all usual legal business that a real person can participate in, such as suing, being sued, owning property, and entering into contracts. This is not a very helpful definition for a philosophical study into a person, as it automatically excludes those under eighteen years of age, and some disabled people with mobility issues, for instance, which seems intuitively to be wrong. (Of course, the definition of a legal person is necessary and is used in very different situations – this merely remarks that it is a singularly unsuitable and unsatisfying definition for a person in this discussion.)
A point to note also is that we often dismiss certain theories or definitions because it goes against intuition or common sense. Might that also be a fallacy?
Now comes some snippets from that log of my dreams I mentioned! Perhaps you could read something into these frankly bizarre imaginings: commence the philosophy of dreams.
I forget how it started, but essentially it led to myself, a boy called Miyuki, and an older scientist figure in a facility that was like a high-tech research compound. I also think Miyuki somehow changed to my father or something like that halfway through. I was alone in a lab that was very large and cavernous: the ceiling was sloped and was like part of a large dome, made from beige concrete with large artistic holes irregularly drilled into it. There were windows opposite to the two doors and these were floor to ceiling, overlooking green grounds. And within, there were two or three rows of lab tables, three to a row. I was at a leftmost one (facing the front) when Miyuki walked in and we started talking about some problems we might have with the compound. After a while, we prepared to ready ourselves against danger and left the lab for the corridor. The corridor was very small and low-ceilinged, with dark grey bristly carpet and middling, yellow-toned lighting. There were doors lined on the walls, and after walking through the lab door, the door leading out of the corridor was about five metres away on the right. On the same side of the wall, there was another room that was my bedroom. We spent some time setting crude booby traps: something that would roll when somebody entered, things that they would step on, etc. The scientist came in after a while to talk to us about some danger again and plan some other things. Suddenly, a large man (reminiscent of the Colonel in Avatar) with a machine gun started forcing his way through the door at the end of the corridor and grabbed the scientist for assumedly death. It was around here Miyuki somehow morphed into my father although it was not a notable event in the dream. The man returned and my father started facing up against him, making them both extremely engaged. I, in panic, snuck into my bedroom which was small, with two rickety beds and two windows with different shapes. The glass was not transparent. One bed had its head on the wall facing the door, and there was a thin but horizontally long window above. The other bed had its head on the same wall as the door, right next to it on the left as one enters. The horizontal window opened but did not really allow for much other than my head to sort of fit through with great effort, and it had a sort of rotating function that allowed me to see a brick corner of a building outside (which seemed to be a revelation to me, meaning I had probably not before stuck my head outside my own bedroom windows). The other window was shaped more ‘normally’ and had windows that opened out vertically, which allowed me to fit through easily. It was quite dark outside but there were streetlamps dimly lighting the panorama. I tossed myself out. It was a slightly high fall, kind of halfway between a second storey window and first storey. There was a beige, wide-cobbled path right outside, about 80cm across, and a black railing on the edge, separating the path from grass that sloped upwards to a main path that seemed to be made up of dark grey tar. I landed slightly on the railing (which twinged) and considered hiding just below my window but was concerned that the man might find me, so I boosted myself over the railing and ran; I do not remember which direction.
This was to do with NYO (National Youth Orchestra), and we had just finished a rehearsal in a big hall almost identical to Port Regis’ main gymnasium. There, however, was a big black block in the centre (made of something a little bit like the regular black rubbery stage material for a production or show), where the conductor should have been, but was not. My friends and I were standing on the block chatting and on our phones (roughly fifteen people in total). Some people were still in their seats, but others had gone. Next thing I remember is walking down a corridor which looked very similar to the pathway in an airport just before one reaches the plane, which is carpeted (grey), and has white supports crisscrossing with a transparent window all the way around like a long tube. This in the dream, however, was not slanted. There was a double-folding light brown door at the end of it (very similar to our school’s) at which I stopped and remembered I had been quicker than the rest of my friends and that they were still behind, so I stopped and held open the door for other people to pass. My friends came along in a short while and I was humming an extract from a song that sounded like ‘This Girl Is On Fire’ that the staff had put on saying it was hard to sing. We reached the dining hall after another small corridor, and we went in.
First two stalls: meat products, barbecue, etc
Third stall: croutons, carbohydrate toppings
Fourth stall: salad (pickled cucumber, carrots, peppers, lettuce, etc)
Fifth stall: dessert (gulab jamun, cheesecake, chocolate brownie)
(All reflected on the other side)
(Why I remembered this to this level of detail is beyond me).
I went in, grabbed a tray, and looked at the refreshments. There was a bottle of water that I liked from China, so I grabbed it as well as another Chinese drink, and I said delightedly out loud how pleased I was, and the closest server, who happened to be Chinese, laughed and said something back. I went along the food stalls (it was a very interesting BBQ) and eventually got to the end. I sat down with my friends, and they turned to me and said: ‘Oh, the others are over there talking to them’. I looked in the direction they were pointing but could see nobody I knew.